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A lifestyle is about how someone chooses to live their life. A “lifestyle” firm is about a place were the lawyers actually have a life to live. That may not be a good thing, one firm has decided. Once, Arent Fox embraced its image as a “lifestyle” firm, but recently the D.C. shop reversed course. At the firm’s partnership retreat last month, firm Chairman Marc Fleischaker reportedly directed partners to stop referring to Arent Fox as a “lifestyle” firm. The problem, Fleischaker says, is one of perception: “The implication is that you don’t have to work hard. We do work hard, and we make a lot of money, so I don’t want people to misconstrue who we are.” Fleischaker, however, says he does not remember ordering his partnership to do away with the moniker. “I did not remember specifically saying it, and I did not have a written speech,” Fleischaker responded last week on The BLT, Legal Times‘ blog, where the story was first reported. “I did not and would not give a �directive’ about whether we could refer to ourselves as a “lifestyle firm.” The “lifestyle” moniker got hung on the firm several years ago after an associate satisfaction survey gave Arent Fox high marks on issues ranging from relationships with partners to training and guidance to compensation and benefits. The good review led firm leaders to use the positive feedback as a tool to recruit associates. But Arent Fox found that while the “lifestyle” tag was an effective pitch for young associates, it made a distinctly different impression on potential lateral partners. “I think it hurts you in recruiting aggressive talent,” says Fleischaker. “It’s an implication that you don’t work hard.” That puts Arent Fox in the seemingly counterintuitive position of now downplaying what was until recently seen as a strength. But such is the current wisdom when fighting for talent: Better to be profitable than popular.
Nathan Carlile can be contacted at [email protected].

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